Is there any better feeling than putting in a huge hit? When the crowd give you a chorus of “Ooohs!” with a visible flinch, you know you’ve done your best. Unfortunately, these tackles are few and far between, but by following these simple tips you have a much better chance of making those crunching tackles yours.
Step A: Practice, Practice, Practice
You can’t expect to read up on how to make a great tackle and then just go out and do it. You need to practice going through the movements and get your body used to get into the right position. It may sound like a cliché, but every tackle is different – whether it’s an entirely different player or a slightly different position, you need to be able to adapt to various conditions. One of the best ways of doing this is by using rugby clothing like rugby hoodies, rugby joggers and rugby t-shirts to help you go through the paces while minimising your risk of injury.
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Step B: Perfect the Technique
Watch international rugby and you’ll see a massive difference in the size of players, and yet someone small like Leigh Halfpenny can put in big tackles just as well as James Haskell. Get the technique right and even the biggest players will tumble. The aim here is to get all your body weight and momentum behind your shoulders and hit an upright opponent when your body is in a horizontal position. As your opponent comes within the range you want to drive forwards and upwards in order to take them off their feet and knock them back a couple of paces – the more momentum you have behind you, the bigger the impact will be. Make sure you wrap your arms around them as just tackling with your shoulders is illegal and dangerous.
Step C: Build your Strength
Even if you have the best possible technique, strength still matters. There are several ways to build up your core strength, with the most effective being resistance training and practising tackling movements with progressing weights and speeds. The faster and harder you can hit, the bigger your tackles will be – just remember to keep your endurance up, stamina is vital in rugby and it’s better to be able to put in dozens of good hits than one great tackle.
Step D: Work on Variations
As mentioned previously, no tackle is the same. That’s why it is important to work on improving your ability across several different tackle types. By doing this you will not only be able to put in try stopping tackles, but you can also get the crowds on their feet for huge hits that are audible from the stands. Continuous tackling training will drastically improve the way in which you perform throughout the season, allowing you to have a much stronger defence and force turnovers and errors. Improving basic strength and body positioning will also have a beneficial influence on many other areas of your game.